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Final: Patriots 23-16: The Patriots are AFC East Champions once again thanks to a 23-16 win over the Dolphins.
It wasn’t pretty, but the Patriots offense did what they had to do when it counted, and the defense came up big all afternoon.
The Patriots clinch a playoff spot, and have a little breathing room as they hit a tough two-game stretch in their schedule with both the Texans and 49ers coming to Foxboro over the next two weeks.
Plenty more coverage coming on CBSBostonsports.com, so stick with us throughout the evening!
4th Quarter, :31 – Patriots 23-16: Brandon Lloyd comes up with the onside kick, and the Patriots just have to take a knee to clinch their fourth straight AFC East title.
4th Quarter, :33 – Patriots 23-16: The Dolphins marched down the field and kicked a field goal to cut it to 23-16.
They’ll now attempt and onside kick to try and complete the comeback.
4th Quarter, 1:10 – Patriots 23-13: The Patriots can’t punch it into the end zone, but a Stephen Gostkowski 20-yard field goal should seal it for New England.
Brady tripped on 3rd-and-Goal, but overall it was a tremendous 16-play, 77-yard drive by the Patriots that ate up 7:18 off the clock.
They are very close to becoming the first AFC team to clinch their division.
4th Quarter, 2:00 – Patriots 20-13: The Patriots run game finally got going and Brandon Lloyd joined the box score, recording his first catch of the afternoon.
Ridley has run for 46 yards on the drive so far, and Lloyd picked up a Patriots first down with a nice 10-yard snag on the sidelines.
Miami burned all three of their timeouts as the Patriots ground attack kept the clock ticking.
The Patriots are threatening to punch one into the end zone, facing 3rd-and-goal on the Miami 2-yard line at the two-minute warning.
4th Quarter, 6:15 – Patriots 20-13: Some bad news on the injury front for the Patriots, as receiver Julian Edelman is on the sidelines with a foot injury.
Edelman had just one catch on three targets, but was responsible for some solid blocks throughout the game.
Brandon Lloyd still hasn’t had the ball thrown his way.
4th Quarter, 8:28 – Patriots 20-13: The Patriots defense is putting together a nice afternoon in Miami, coming up with stops when they need to.
Despite allowing Daniel Thomas to run for nine yards on a 4th-and-1, Jerod Mayo blitzed at the perfect time and came up with a huge sack on Tannehill on 3rd-and-4 from the New England 7-yard line.
Thanks to Mayo’s sack, Miami settled for a field goal and the Patriot still lead by a touchdown. The Pats secondary was a bit sloppy, with Talib being flagged for pass interference, but Kyle Arrington broke up a pass and put a bit hit on a running Tannehill to force that 4th down attempt.
Trevor Scott also recorded a sack on the drive.
4th Quarter, 13:49 – Patriots 20-10: The sloppiness returns for the Patriots offense as the fourth quarter gets underway.
After a Brady-Hernandez connection gets the Patriots to the Miami two-yard line, Brady gets sacked twice and Wes Welker drops a touchdown pass.
Brady has now been sacked four times this afternoon, and has already thrown the ball 37 times.
Patriots settle for a 32-yard field goal from Stephen Gostkotski to make it 20-10.
Not getting into the end zone could come back to bite the Pats in the backside on this one. Once again it will be up to the defense to keep Miami from scoring.
End 3rd Quarter – Patriots 17-10: Both teams go scoreless in the third quarter, but the Patriots are threatening as the fourth is set to get underway.
Tom Brady and company have delivered a balance attack so far on the drive. Danny Woodhead picked up a first down with a 13-yard run, and Aaron Hernandez has 15 yards on two receptions.
The Patriots have the ball on the Miami 35 to start the fourth quarter, looking to add to their lead.
3rd Quarter, 3:00 – Patriots 17-10: The Pats defense forces another three-and-out, as Steve Gregory and Rob Ninkovich come up with a huge stuff of Reggie Bush on second down.
When healthy, Gregory has been a great addition to the Pats secondary, giving them a solid veteran presence.
Ninkovich is enjoying his time against his former team, racking up three tackles so far.
3rd Quarter, 4:02 – Patriots 17-10: The Miami D comes up with another big stop and the Dolphins will start in Patriots territory because of it.
After a penalty on 1st down, the Patriots go three-and-out, picking up just five yards. Danny Woodhead ran for just a yard on 2nd-and-16, and picked up just four yards on a screen pass on third down.
The Patriots offense is still struggling to get in a rhythm. It’s a good thing the Patriots D is playing so well, holding on to the touchdown lead.
3rd Quarter, 6:55 – Patriots 17-10: The Patriots continue the games’ trend of solid defense, forcing the Dolphins to punt again.
Tannehill picked up a big third down conversion with a 20-yard hookup with Charles Clay, but on 3rd-and-14 Devon Bess takes a step backwards and only gets 13 yards thanks to a nice tackle by Kyle Arrington.
The Dolphins are just 2-of-9 on third down conversions.
Brandon Fields delivers a solid 47-yard punt though that has the Patriots pinned back at their own 2-yard line.
3rd Quarter, 10:32 – Patriots 17-10: The Patriots don’t go three-and-out, but they may have been better off doing so.
After picking up a first down thanks to a Carlos Dansby pass interference penalty, the Pats offense can’t move the chains, and Tom Brady goes down hard in the process.
On 3rd-and-4, Cameron Wake blows by Sebastian Vollmer and drops Brady for Miami’s second sack of the afternoon.
The Patriots offense is struggling to get anything going since scoring their last touchdown — both through the air and on the ground.
Matthew Slater was there to down Mesko’s punt inside the Miami 10, but the ball skipped off his hands and into the end zone for a touchback.
3rd Quarter, 12:46 – Patriots 17-10: The Dolphins don’t do anything either on their first possession of the second half, as the New England D forces their second three-and-out of the afternoon.
Reggie Bush managed just one-yard on first down, and the Patriots broke up Tannehill’s next two pass attempts (Brandon Spikes and Dont’a Hightower both came up with tipped passes), though it mostly thanks to bad passing by Tannehill.
Spikes has had a pretty solid game as far as defending the pass though, a very good sign for the linebacker.
Patriots will start the drive at their own 31-yard line.
3rd Quarter, 13:27 – Patriots 17-10: Nothing doing for the Patriots offense as they get the ball out of halftime, as they go three-and-out for the second time today.
Brady threw incomplete to Julian Edelman on 1st-and-10, and then Ridley could only pick up nine yards on two carries forcing New England to punt.
The Miami defense has looked good so far this afternoon, stopping the run and pestering Brady and his receivers.
Halftime – Patriots 17-10: The Dolphins cut into the Patriots lead just before halftime, but New England gets the ball to start the second half.
Welker has 10 catches for 89 yards on a team-high 14 targets against his former squad. Hernandez has been targeted seven times by Brady, but only has three receptions for 41 yards. Brandon Lloyd has yet to have a ball thrown his way this afternoon.
The Patriots run game hasn’t gotten anything going, with Stevan Ridley (four yards on four carries) and Danny Woodhead (seven yards on three carries) combining for just 11 yards on the ground. The Patriots have run the ball eight times so far.
Brady is 15-for-26 for 154 yards, a touchdown and a interception at the half.
2nd Quarter, 0:25 – Patriots 17-10: After picked up just two first downs and totaling 51 yards prior to this drive, the Dolphins pick up five first downs and 80 yards en route to a Tannehill rushing score.
The Dolphins rookie QB has hurt the Patriots with his legs so far, rushing for 15 yards on four carries.
A couple big plays by tight end Anthony Fasano (14-yard pass from Tannehill) and Reggie Bush (16-yard run) erased an early 1st-and-25 for the Dolphins. Miami picked up a key third down conversion with Tannehill hitting Brian Hartline over the middle for 17 yards with Talib on the coverage.
The drive ate up 6:28 and Miami didn’t give the Pats offense much time to work with before the half.
2nd Quarter, 6:58 – Patriots 17-3: The Patriots go three-and-out following the turnover, but Stephen Gostkowski hits from 43-yards out to give the Patriots another three points.
Brady was sacked on first down and nearly picked on second down. He’s 15-for-26 so far for 154 yards with a touchdown and pick.
2nd Quarter, 7:54 – Patriots 14-3: It doesn’t matter who is on the New England defense, they just keep forcing turnovers.
Defense End Trevor Scott — in for the suspended Jermaine Cunningham and injured Chandler Jones — got to Tannehill as he was throwing and forced a fumble. Vince Wilfork scooped it up, and the Patriots take over at the Miami 35-yard line.
Patriots are back up to a +24 in the turnover department on the season.
Wilfork gave the ball to his wife Bianca, who has a front row seat behind the New England bench.
2nd Quarter, 9:21 – Patriots 14-3: The Patriots couldn’t get anything going at first, going three-and-out, but Miami was flagged for roughing Zoltan Mesko on the punt and gave the Patriots new life.
And Wes Welker made his former team pay. The Patriots drove down the field 75 yards in 13 plays, capped off by Brady hitting Welker on a screen for a seven-yard touchdown. Miami sent the kitchen sink at Brady on the play, completely forgetting about #83 on the play.
Welker has gone over the 1,000 yard mark for the fifth time in his career, and is up to nine receptions for 82 yards so far this afternoon.
Brady now has thrown a touchdown in 44 straight games, that’s the longest active streak in the NFL, and is just three games behind Johnny Unitas’ 47-game streak for the second longest all-time.
The Patriots receivers are doing a good job at making the Miami defenders miss. Aaron Hernandez had a nice spin move on a 2nd-and-10 play to pick up a first down, and has three receptions for 41 yards.
There is some concern on the Patriots offensive line too, as starting guard Dan Connolly was seen walking to the locker room with the New England medical staff.
End Of 1st Quarter- Patriots 7-3: The Dolphins don’t do much off the turnover, but were able to get a 44-yard field goal out of it to cut into New England’s lead.
Miami managed just eight yards on six plays, and nearly had a turnover themselves. Running back Daniel Thomas fumbled, but lineman Richie Incognito was able to pick it up before Safety Steve Gregory.
1st Quarter, 3:03 – Patriots 7-0: Brady’s Miami nightmares continue.
Brady forced a pass into Aaron Hernandez and was picked off by Rashard Jones. It’s just Brady’s fourth interception of the season, and first in 202 passes. It snapped the longest streak in the NFL.
Dolphins take over at the New England 34-yard line.
1st Quarter, 4:32 – Patriots 7-0: Miami can’t do anything off the Gostkowski miss, as the Patriots catch a huge break.
Tannehill had Hartline wide open deep down the field but overthrew his receiver, who had beat Aqib Talib on the play. Talib was expecting some safety help, but never got it.
Vince Wilfork applied some nice pressure on Tannehill on third down, causing him to overthrow Bess along the sidelines.
The Patriots have their work cut out for them though, as they start their next drive from their own 2-yard line.
1st Quarter, 6:43 – Patriots 7-0: The Dolphins are putting some heat on Tom Brady, causing him to make some quick passes and hit the ground.
The Patriots drove into Miami territory, but kicker Stephen Gostkowski missed a 49-yard field goal attempt — his third miss in his last four tries. He’s now up to six misses for the season. He hasn’t missed six field goals since his rookie season in 2006.
Miami takes over at their own 39-yard line.
1st Quarter, 10:40 – Patriots 7-0: Another three-and-out for the Miami offense.
Reggie Bush was hit for a loss on 1st-and-10, and despite Ryan Tannehill and Brian Hartline getting nine yards on 2nd down, the rookie QB can’t hook up with Devon Bess on 3rd-and-4 and the Dolphins are forced to punt.
Tannehill is just 1-for-4 after Miami’s first two drives, and the Dolphins have just 12 total yards.
1st Quarter, 11:53 – Patriots 7-0: The Patriots take full advantage of the field position as Stevan Ridley runs one in from two yards out to put New England on top 7-0. It’s Ridley’s ninth rushing score of the season.
Brady went 2-for-4 on the drive, hitting Wes Welker and Aaron Hernandez along the way.
1st Quarter, 14:04 – 0-0: The Dolphins couldn’t do anything after getting the ball to start the game.
The Pats defense forces a three-and-out, and then punter Brandon Fields can’t handle a low snap and the Patriots will start with the ball at the Miami 12-yard line.
Pregame, 1:02pm: The Patriots won the toss and deferred to the second half.
A rain shower broke out just before the game was set to start but stopped shortly after.
The New England Patriots have a chance to clinch the AFC East with a win against the Dolphins in Miami Sunday afternoon.
For the Patriots, it would be their ninth division title in the last 10 seasons and fourth straight.
New England has won five straight games, averaging 43.8 points over that span. Six of their 28 touchdowns scored during the streak have come from their defense or special teams.
There are no real shockers when it comes to the Patriots inactives for Sunday’s game. Offensive lineman Logan Mankins and defense end Chandler Jones were already ruled out on Friday, and the only notable addition to that list this morning is tight end Visanthe Shiancoe. With Rob Gronkowski already sidelined with a broken forearm, the bulk of the tight end duties will fall on Aaron Hernandez and Daniel Fells against the Dolphins.
The good news is receiver Julian Edelman is active after taking a big hit against the Jets on Thanksgiving night. He has played a huge role for the Patriots offense and special teams the last two weeks, catching a pair of touchdown passes and returning another on a fumble by Jets kickoff returner Joe McKnight.
Offensive lineman Sebastian Vollmer is also active for New England after missing practice on Wednesday and being limited on Thursday and Friday. Vollmer missed last Thursday night’s win over the Jets, and will likely get the start at right tackle today against Miami.
Stick with CBSBostonsports.com’s live game blog for all the updates, watch all the action starting at 1pm on WBZ-TV, and listen to the game on 98.5 The Sports Hub.